In order to prove the concept I wanted to build a minimum viable prototype. I took an 18" board, 2 continuous rotation servos, and an off-the-shelf R/C setup.
The line would wind around the servo on a spool, guided by kitchen cabinet hardware. RSL shackles on the end of the line were used to attach to toggles on the parachute. Then I took it to my local skydiving dropzone to test it:
SUCCESS! The first test proved it was viable, but needed improvement...